A Letter from Adrienne Maree Brown:
Dear Ruckus family,
I am writing to you today with big and exciting news. When I first came to Ruckus in 2005, it was as a facilitator, which is my passion. The organization's essential challenge at that time was answering the question, who and how does Ruckus need to be to most strategically and effectively serve the communities who were calling for our support? These communities were indigenous and grassroots communities, and it was and is clear to Ruckus that these communities hold the answers for our collective future, and the advancement of non-violent direct action skills in their struggles would benefit all of humanity, and all things that live.
After months on the board, I was invited (strongly urged!) to take on the role of Executive Director in order to better facilitate the process we had begun: refining Ruckus's ability to share direct action tools and strategies with impacted communities and allies. Along this journey, some key lessons have emerged of how Ruckus should be in order to best midwife the future we believe in:
- The Ruckus Network has to be strong. Our network of volunteer trainers and direct action experts is our heart and keeps our blood pumping - it is this network of loving and fierce people that accomplish our work in the world. This means the network must be invested in, to come together and learn from each other and teach each other, and to build community for the long haul.
- The Ruckus Network has to be decentralized. When I joined Ruckus, we had a staff of six (which became seven at one point), and the work and decision-making was centered in that staff. Like many organizations, we thought growth meant increasing staff size, but we have learned that that is not always true. Ruckus grows and learns each time a community learns the direct action skill-set, takes action, and realizes they can and should take creative actions regularly - to resist oppression, and to build their own resilience as a body that can work together.
- Working with front-line communities is essential to our own political growth, and to the advancement of our movement's goals. Communities who are on the front lines of environmental and social injustices hold the knowledge, vision, and power to transform our society to a more just and sustainable world. By working with communities on the front lines, our vision of the world grows, our trainers and volunteers learn new strategies, and we learn how to better function as an organization and as a community. Despite economic hardships, we are learning to stretch, adapt and innovate in order to continue prioritizing working with these communities. By making this choice, we are also carving a more radical and resilient space, and pushing the boundaries of traditional nonprofit structures.
Now, with these key lessons in our toolbox, Ruckus has been in its most flexible and effective form ever. We have truly reached the milestones we set out to achieve. And now it is with a great sense of pride, accomplishment and a thrill up my spine that I announce my work as a staff member of Ruckus is done!
I want to honor the contributions of each person I have had the pleasure of working with to get us here: John Sellers, JC Callender, Nupur Modi, Marty Aranaydo, Hannah Strange, Sabba Syal, Celeste Faison, Allen Gunn(er), Heather Milton-Lightening, Karl Carter, Malia Lazu, Shannon Service, Gopal Dayaneni, Isaac Martin, Madeline Gardner, Omi Hodwitz, the Ruckus network... and most of all, the two women who have been my beloved equals as Directors through the most recent phases of this process: Megan Swoboda and Sharon Lungo.
My facilitation role is over, and Megan and Sharon are ready to hold this network into the future, as Co-Directors of The Ruckus Society, and re-focus all of Ruckus's energy on what Ruckus does best: Action!
In addition to moving from having an E.D. to having two Co-Directors, we are forming a Leadership Team, which will be comprised of equal parts Board, Staff, and Network members (all with equal power), and this body will serve as the ultimate guiding force of Ruckus. This is formalizing how we have been operating, using more and more of the brilliant minds in our circle in this way, and moving towards a more horizontal structure that embodies our values.
This work hasn't been easy, and it has stretched me in ways I never imagined. I never dreamed of being an E.D., and I doubt you will see me in this role again. I wouldn't have done it for any other group; the passion I feel for the work Ruckus does is unparalleled. These are the folks you want next to you when the shit hits the fan. They have been my teachers - patient, loving, fierce, constant, committed teachers.
This transition will take place over the Spring and Summer, as Megan and Sharon step up into Co-Director positions, and our Leadership Team develops.
My journey as E.D. will officially end in September after our Advanced Action Boot Camp for Eco-Justice, at which point I will move back to the Board of Directors, and continue supporting Ruckus's work from that space, where I started my relationship with Ruckus.
Thank you all for your support and love for both Ruckus and me through this transition, and we hope we can count on you to continue supporting us in this important next phase of our work.
With love and gratitude,
Adrienne Maree Brown
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